Archdiocese Sues Philadelphia for Religious Discrimination

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 21, 2018   

Catholic beliefs about homosexuality at heart of controversy

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PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archdiocese of Philadelphia along with several foster parents are suing the City of Philadelphia for blocking a Catholic organization over the issue of homosexuality.

In March, the city government announced a dire need for more foster parents. Despite this, Philadelphia suspended foster care referrals to Catholic Social Services (CSS) — operated by the archdiocese — and has threatened to revoke referrals permanently because CSS won't adopt out children to gay couples.

The city government claims that CSS's rule against housing children with same-sex couples is discriminatory. In a letter dated May 7, the city's law department argued that CSS's policy is "discrimination" and even "arguably unconstitutional."

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a lawsuit on May 16 arguing, "Despite a foster care crisis and a need for more foster homes, the City of Philadelphia has decided to cut off foster placements for Catholic Social Services and prioritize political grandstanding over the needs of children."

Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund, told Church Militant:

At least a dozen foster homes are currently sitting empty, even though Philadelphia is facing a foster care crisis and has called for 300 additional foster families. Catholic Social Services has been providing quality services to at-risk children for decades, and the City itself has ranked Catholic Social Services as one of the top providers when it comes to serving these children. Now those services are being threatened because the City disagrees with Catholic religious teaching. The City has picked an unnecessary fight, and the ones being hurt are at-risk children. 

One of the plaintiffs in the case, foster parent Sharonell Fulton, said in an online public statement, "I have relied on Catholic Social Services for support for years, and the City is taking away this help and causing harm and heartache to countless families like mine."

A page on the Becket Fund's website reads, "Now, by suspending referrals to Catholic Social Services, the City has made its foster care crisis even worse."

Kathryn Jean Lopez from National Review sided with Catholic Social Services in the debate, arguing, "Now really is a time for adults to consider what is best for children. While adults debate neuralgic issues, how about keeping faith-based providers doing what they do well?"

Philadelphia has decided to prioritize political grandstanding over the needs of children.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is head of the archdiocese of Philadelphia. When the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) came to the city in 2015, some Catholics criticized hiw willingness to work with and even honor pro-abortion, pro-LGBT leaders to help run the event, including LGBT advocate Mayor Michael Nutter.

Michael Hichborn from the Lepanto Institute shed light on the fact that the president of the WMOF had made donations to the campaigns of several pro-abortion politicians, including one former executive director of Planned Parenthood. The Lepanto Institute also revealed that the Exhibit and Sponsor Manager for the 2015 WMOF was an LGBT activist. 

Along with Nutter, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, an ardent abortion advocate, was honorary co-chair of the 2015 WMOF.

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